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Chandler Unified, among other districts, still short on school bus drivers

Chandler Unified School District bus.jpg
Posted at 12:18 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 15:21:31-04

CHANDLER, AZ — Across the country and throughout Arizona, school districts are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. That includes the Chandler Unified School District.

Nate Dunn has driven school buses for CUSD for the past nine years. It's a job that requires safety first and a friendly face at the start and end of every day.

"The relationships you build over the years because you're on the same route for as long as you want to be on the same route, so you learn the kids, you learn the families. It becomes a family on the bus," Dunn said.

But on the back of every bus, there's a sign letting everyone know that the district needs more drivers.

"We had about 240 drivers. We are down to 167," said the Director of Transportation for CUSD, David Thiele, who says they had a driver shortage before the pandemic, but the problem has gotten worse.

He says depending on the number of drivers who call out sick on any given day, students may experience delays at bus stops.

"You can expect a 20-30 minute delay and generally, we try to combine those stops to another bus," Thiele said.

Thiele says parents and schools will be notified the day before if a delay is expected. In the meantime, he says they're actively recruiting and ready to hire.

"It's a challenge every day," Thiele said. "But we have a lot of great people that work for Chandler Unified School District and a lot of great employees for transportation that love what they do. That's why they're here, so I always say it's all hands on deck. It changes every day and every one of these drivers are wanting these kids to get to school on time. So, they do their best to get that job done."

For details on how to become a school bus driver in the CUSD, click here.